Response to Anti-Cloning Article “A Bad Investment” by Wesley J. Smith
1. “CBC Summary.” The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. <http://www.thecbc.org/redesigned/cbc_summary.php>. Accessed 2007 Mar 4.
2. “Discovery Institute – Wesley J. Smith.” The Discovery Institute. <http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=13&isFellow=true>. Accessed 2007 Mar 4.
3. Smith, Wesley J. “A Bad Investment.” National Review Online. <http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/smith200406040953.asp>. Accessed 2007 Mar 4.
Main Claim of the Article
Wesley J. Smith argues that therapeutic human cloning is too expensive and impractical to merit federal funding3.
Support for the Main Claim of the Article
Smith argues that if therapeutic cloning were as promising as its proponents claim, then venture capitalists, a somewhat amoral lot, would see its economic value and would invest in it so they could reap the benefits of the drugs and treatments it produces. Yet therapeutic cloning has received little support in a bull market ($100bn invested with negative returns) for biotechnology. What these investors have realized is that therapeutic cloning, besides its dubious moral status, is not financially feasible.
The most damning problem with therapeutic cloning is supply and demand. Unlike sperm, eggs are difficult to harvest: each one costs $1000-$2000, and as we all know, a woman can only produce one per month. At the moment, cloning is so difficult that there are about 100 failures for each success, so the cost to open a stem cell line for one person is $100,000-$200,000. This prices the vast majority of consumers and businesses out of the market. It would be a Herculean task to save 100 people with therapeutic cloning, let alone 100 million.
Smith notes in passing that embryonic stem cells still cause tumors in animals; cloned embryonic stem cells would not be any less problematic.
Finally, the author writes that research into adult stem cells has progressed at an “astounding” pace; helping humans to repair various ailments such as neurological conditions, heart disease, cycle-cell anemia, and Parkinson’s. Adult stem cell research is cheaper, and there are no moral objections to it, so it is a far better candidate for investment and federal funding than therapeutic cloning of embryonic stem cells.
Your Evaluation of the Quality of the Information Provided in this Article
The first evidence of this article’s quality is its publisher: National Review is one of the nation’s most respected conservative magazines; National Review Online is one of the most popular conservative websites, and the magazine and website alike publish articles from some of America’s leading thinkers. If this article is credible enough for such a publication, it should be credible enough for a Chem 83 report.
National Review cited Wesley J. Smith as a senior fellow at The Discovery Institute and a special consultant for the Center of Bioethics and Culture. I double-checked both of these organizations and found that they were reputable2,3 and that both included Smith in said roles. The CBC boasted C. Ben Mitchell, Ph. D and editor of the International Journal of Ethics, and William Cheshire, M.D. among the members of its Board of Directors. Furthermore, Smith’s biography at the Discovery Institute revealed that he is a well-respected writer: the National Journal called him one of the nation’s foremost bioengineering experts, and he is a winner of the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
This article was published June 4, 2004, inside the three-year window for Chem 83 reports. Therapeutic cloning has not advanced significantly since then, so the information therein is not obsolete.
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